These hoping the introduction of a free commerce deal between the UK and the European Union on January 1 would mark the tip of the Brexit dialogue would discover themselves sorely dissatisfied in 2021.
Reflecting the last-ditch nature of the post-Brexit commerce negotiations, with a deal solely struck on Christmas Eve, it was not till April that the EU formally ratified the accord.
The disruption some predicted within the speedy aftermath of the transition interval ending on December 31 largely did not materialise on the British mainland, however there was bother elsewhere because the influence of the UK’s withdrawal from the bloc created a ripple impact.
The protocol was agreed as a part of the Withdrawal Settlement to keep away from a tough border in Eire after the UK left the EU, successfully making a border down the Irish Sea.
In January, there was dismay in London, Belfast and Dublin after European Fee president Ursula von der Leyen introduced she could be overriding the protocol, earlier than shortly U-turning as a row over provides of the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine boiled over.
The vaccine quarrel abated however ill-feeling amongst Unionists and ministers in regards to the protocol didn’t, with common protests held in loyalist communities and tensions fraying over the so-called “sausage warfare”.
A sequence of truces needed to be agreed within the second half of the yr to make sure chilled meat from Nice Britain might proceed to be traded into Northern Eire following the expiry of the preliminary six-month grace interval after the tip of the transition interval.
It was not till September that an indefinite suspension was caused and each the UK and EU agreed to work in direction of negotiating a extra secure settlement.
The transfer got here after two authorized challenges towards the lawfulness of the protocol had been dismissed by a Excessive Court docket choose in June, with Mr Justice Colton rejecting that it breached the Acts of Union whereas on the identical time noting that it did battle with provisions inside the act that assured free commerce inside the UK.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Brexit minister Lord Frost, who helped negotiate the withdrawal and subsequent commerce accord, frequently acknowledged that the brink for invoking Article 16 of the protocol, which incorporates that it’s inflicting critical difficulties economically and for society, had been met.
However weekly talks between Lord Frost and fee vice-president Maros Sefcovic in direction of the tail finish of the yr have advised it could be potential to amend the treaty – even when the UK has insisted on issuing the same assertion on most events citing “important gaps” between the 2 sides.
Either side try to achieve an settlement that would cut back customs paperwork and the variety of checks required on items shifting from Nice Britain to Northern Eire, with the EU making quite a lot of concessions to ease commerce frictions.
However a dispute across the function of the European Court docket of Justice continues to be a significant stumbling block.
On fishing, France has been at loggerheads with Britain after claiming that about 100 small French boats had been denied licences to proceed trawling in UK waters after Brexit.
The entry dispute noticed Channel ports blockaded by French fishermen at totally different levels throughout the previous 12 months.
There may be hope the issuing of extra licences by the UK and Jersey governments after talks on Friday might at the least ease tensions heading into the brand new yr.
With unanswered questions on the protocol, fishing and in addition cross-Channel migration controls, one factor that does seem sure is that Brexit will proceed to spark rivalry lengthy into 2022.